Weekend Box Office: BB-8 Bears Down on DiCaprio

Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens withstood the strong nationwide debut of Fox’s The Revenant to remain the top film at the North American box office while the horror feature The Forest opened in fourth. Thanks to the strong expansion of The Revenant and the continuing success of Star Wars: Epiosde VII, the box office continued to show strength, evidenced by a 22% increase in sales over one year ago this week.

With the holidays out of the way, The Force Awakens cooled down a bit more than before, decreasing by 54% from its New Years frame. Still, the J.J. Abrams flick kept rolling in the dough as it earned an estimated $41.6 million from 4,134 theaters in its fourth weekend of release. After 24 days, The Force Awakens has earned an out-of-this-world $812 million in domestic sales. The film officially passed Avatar earlier this past Wednesday to become the biggest domestic film of all-time* at the box office.

Now that The Force Awakens has broken the $800 million mark, does it have what it takes to make it to the ten-digit-milestone? Weekend matinees should continue to drive the film, but working against Star Wars is the fact that the film begins to shed screens starting this Thursday. This will include many of the profitable IMAX theaters that have shown the movie to sellout crowds since the night of December 17th. While The Force Awakens should be able to cross the $900 million mark by the end of its phenomenal run, the billion-dollar mark domestically is looking like it’s not going to happen.

Hitting “The Big B” overseas, however, will be easy. The film landed in its final market –China- on Saturday where it earned a record-setting $53 million. For the weekend, The Force Awakens earned $104 million internationally to bring its global total to $921 million. With $1.73 billion taken in so far, The Force Awakens is now the seventh biggest international title of all time and the third biggest all-time global title*.

Landing in second place was Fox’s award-contender The Revenant with a bloody good $38 million from 3,375 theaters. The R-rated wilderness survival tale expanded nationwide following a two-week Oscar-qualifying run in four New York and Los Angeles theaters, where it earned $1.5 million. Overseas, the movie earned $20 million from a handful of markets.

Reviews the Leonardo DiCaprio/Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu epic was on the solid side. The Revenant earned an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 77/100 rating from Metacritic. Ticket buyers gave the drama a “B+” CinemaScore rating, which is actually better than two recent DiCaprio features that became box office hits: The Wolf of Wall Street and Shutter Island.

The stronger-than-anticipated opening for The Revenant must have come as a bit of a relief for both Fox and producing partner Regency Pictures. The $90 million production budget soared to $135 million as filming commenced last year in Canada and Argentina. The weekend gross is also impressive given the grim nature of the film, the film’s rating and runtime of 156 minutes. The movie should get additional support from tonight’s Golden Globe awards as well as the Oscar nominations being announced this upcoming week.

Paramount’s hit comedy Daddy’s Home continued to draw viewers in third place this weekend. The Mark Whalberg/Will Ferrell feature earned an estimated $15 million from 3,483 theaters in its third weekend. Off 49%, Daddy has brought home a great $116 million so far and could work its way to $140-145 million.

Usually, when a film opens after the first of the year -that isn’t expanding from a limited December release-, it’s a sign that said flick is being dumped into the market to make a quick buck. Welcome to The Forest, the number four film in the country this weekend. The Focus/Gramercy feature starring Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) opened Friday on 2,451 screens where it earned an estimated $13 million.

Reviews for the $10 million production were largely negative. The Forest was branded with a 12% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a 37/100 from Metacritic. Ticket buyers weren’t all that jazzed by it either. They gave the film a “C” rating on CinemaScore, a sign that word-of-mouth isn’t going to be the greatest.

One film that has benefited from good word-of-mouth has been Universal’s comedy Sisters. The Tina Fey feature has stayed in the top five ever since opening December 18th, no small feat considering how many films were also in the market during Christmas week. In it’s fourth session, Sisters bonded with $7.1 million from 2,864 screens, a business dip of 44%. After one month, Sisters has earned $75 million and could wind down its run around $95 million.

The rest of the top ten was as follows:

  1. The Hateful Eight (Weinstein) $6.35 million (-60%); $41.4 million
  1. The Big Short (Paramount) $6.3 million (-30%); $43 million
  1. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Fox) $5.5 million (-54%); $75.6 million
  1. Joy (Fox) $4.5 million (-56%); $46.5 million
  1. Concussion (Sony) $3 million (-61%); $31 million

Next weekend, Universal rolls out Ride Along 2 while Paramount debuts the Michael Bay military drama 13 Hours. Ride Along 2 should open at number one, earning as much as $50 million in its first three days. 13 Hours should open around $25 million, decent numbers but not enough to beat The Force Awakens –which should get a boost from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend- or possibly even The Revenant.

*= not adjusted for inflation



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